Sex Crazed Chimps and World Peace

I assume you’ve heard that we share 98.8% of our DNA with chimps. But, there’s another primate we share about 99% of our DNA with and let me tell you, they are funky.

Introducing…The Bonobo!

With a name like that, you’re bound to have some quirky personality traits.

Here’s the story of the bonobo. Once upon a time there lived two groups of chimps. The first group lived North of the Zair river and the second group lived south of it with the gorillas. The chimps were bad swimmers so they never really crossed the river. At this time the two groups were relatively similar primates. Then, around 2.5 million years ago, there was a serious drought in the southern Zair area and the food source for the gorillas was practically wiped out. The gorillas migrated to go find food in the north. Eventually the drought ended and the crops came back, but the gorillas stayed in the north with the first group. The first group evolved from there, competing with the gorillas for resources and the second group evolved in an environment with no competition for resources. The second group are the bonobos.

Now that you know the bonobo’s origin story, let’s talk about the differences between chimps and bonobos and how it relates to us.

First on the list, chimps are violent. In fact, chimps have the same murder rate as humans did before modern weaponry. Chimps handle conflict by fighting and killing one another.

How do bonobo’s handle conflict? They have sex. I’m serious. Two bonobo’s have a conflict over whose food is whose? They give each other an orgasm and then they share that food. A chimp would just fight the other for the food.

Next on the list, bonobos are naturally generous. bonobos will forego their food just to have an interaction with a stranger. Even when coaxed to hoard their food bonobos found a way to share it. Chimps? They are supreme hoarders and never share food. And as far as how chimps regard strangers, they are one of the only two species of animals that will lead raids to specifically kill strangers. The other one is us.

Interestingly, and unusual in the animal kingdom, the heads of bonobo tribes are female. If any male bonobos try to harm another bonobo the females will join together to prevent him from hurting anyone. Oh and then? Yeah, then they have sex.

We’re much like the chimps. We’re prone to violence. We’re prone to being frightened of strangers. We’re prone to hoarding.

But, we also share 99% of our DNA with bonobos. So, we’re prone to companionship, selflessness, love, and generosity. And the thing that made bonobos different from chimps? Having enough resources.

If we want to lessen our tendency to go to war. If we want to lessen our tendency to hoard and hide away our treasure for our selves. If we want to be less like the chimp and more like the bonobo we have to fight for equitable resource distribution. We can take personal steps towards making sure our neighbors have enough to eat. We can contribute financially to those who don’t have clean water. We can reduce our carbon footprint to ensure that climate change doesn’t cause drought and famine.

War and equitable resource distribution are directly related. And there are many personal steps we can take to contributing to making sure every one has enough.

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